(Business in Cameroon) - Invited by his French peer, Emmanuel Macron, to participate in the Paris Peace Forum 2019 (November 11 to 13), Cameroonian President Paul Biya actively participated in a debate session moderated by Mo Ibrahim on the theme: “Rise of the south: towards a more balanced global governance system.”
“My country is complex. We were first a German colony. After the First World War, Germany lost its colonies, which were shared between Great Britain and France, and my country was divided. Some were under British colonization and others under French colonization. The result has been a juxtaposition of culture and civilization that makes things quite difficult. Well, we have done everything we can to put the two languages, English and French, on an equal footing but, the mindsets, as well as the judicial systems, are different. So, we have had conflicts that are being resolved at the moment to keep the part of my country that was under British colonization under a specific status,” Paul Biya explained.
"We had the possibility of integrating the English speakers [Anglophones] directly into the Francophone system, which was predominantly used by 80% of our people but, I believe that countries are now concerned about affirming their identity and that is why we are setting up a special status that recognizes the specificity of the English-speaking area, but it remains an integral part of Cameroon,” the president added.
Since October 2016, the Anglophone regions (the North-West and South-West) of Cameroon have been going through a violent pro-independent socio-political crisis. According to the European Union (EU), the humanitarian crisis has been worsening, pushing more people into exile. Currently, there are nearly 42,000 Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria and 530,000 internally displaced persons.
International Crisis, an NGO, reported nearly 2000 deaths after 20 months of fights between pro-independence extremists and defence forces.
Despite the organization of a national dialogue on this crisis (from 30 September to 4 October 2019 in Yaoundé), the EU expresses its concern and strongly condemns the persistence of violence, against civilians particularly, and the level of insecurity in the North-West and South-West. “Many serious human rights violations continue to be reported and predatory crime has increased,” the European Union council indicated.